VILONIA — The Vilonia coaches thought about it earlier in the season, but in last year’s season finale against Greenbrier, they gave Michael Atkinson the ball at quarterback and told him to make plays.

He helped lead the Eagles to a 37-26 upset in the Judge’s Cup game.

"It made the end of the season feel a whole lot better," said Atkinson, who takes over fulltime at quarterback for Vilonia. "We had always talked about me playing quarterback but when I got the chance, it was exciting."

This year?

"We’ve got good backs and receivers and I’ve now gotten some reps at quarterback," he said. "I feel very comfortable in the offense. I think my best feeling is to keep the play alive. I can make some plays with my feet. I think I can help keep the defense honest."

And that could mean a more versatile offense for the Eagles, 4-6 a year ago.

"We’ve got a lot of good skill players and a lot of team speed from a state champion track team. I’m comfortable with my receivers."

Another beneficiary of the speed with be the Eagles’ defense, where senior Martin Reyes is one of the leaders.

"I think we have a really improved defense," he said. "We are more experienced upfront. I think our linebackers really fly to the ball and our secondary is a lot better."

The Vilonia defense gave up an average of 25 points per game last season.

"I think a lot of teams will have more trouble with our defense this year," Reyes said.